Can NFTs Transform Businesses in Asia?


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NFTs and Their Commercial Opportunities in Asia

According to experts, Asia is poised to become the biggest non-fungible token (NFT) market in the years to come, likely to surpass the West. At the end of 2021, the world saw a surge in the NFT market, with the industry reporting sales of nearly US$41 billion. This was a boom in growth compared to the earlier part of the year, which saw sales figures of US$74 million. Asia played a significant role in boosting the sales of NFTs as their popularity swept the region, especially in countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore, which have some of the highest numbers of NFT collectors.

The growing popularity of NFTs has allowed many artists and collectors from Asia to capitalise on this trend and expose their digital art to an international audience, with some NFTs selling for millions. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even commercial businesses have jumped on the bandwagon, seeing the upward trend.

Iconic brands Nike and Coca-Cola are among the many businesses using and launching their own NFTs. Nike, for example, have used NFTs to verify the authenticity of their footwear, given the popular subculture of trading, reselling, and collecting their sneakers. The brand has taken the ‘traditional’ approach towards NFTs and evolved it by tagging the NFTs to a physical product that can also uniquely be used on a digital platform.

The possibilities surrounding NFTs appear to be limitless, and their application can vary quite drastically. NFTs can be used for commercial purposes, whether for a big brand or a smaller business, allowing for a unique approach to marketing and branding, if applied correctly. In Asia, some companies have realised the potential of the NFT industry and are becoming pioneers in their industry by adopting this technology.

T-Series, India’s largest music label and movie studio, announced early this year that they would be launching their own NFTs, together with Hefty Entertainment, a division of Hungama, South Asia’s largest digital media entertainment company. Capitalising on the millions of subscribers on their digital platforms, the two heavyweights, together with Polygon Studios – an NFT-centric business – will venture into the Metaverse and initiate their own rare NFTs. These NFTs will give collectors who own them an exclusive experience through T-Series’ extensive catalogue of old and new content.

In doing this, T-Series and Hungama are set to revolutionise the way their audience experiences digital content, and this will allow them to expand their audience to a global level. Understanding that innovation and technological advancements have evolved content distribution towards the digital landscape, these businesses have recalibrated their distribution channels and have been quick to capitalise on the latest development in the industry, NFTs.

A female metal band trio from Indonesia, Voice of Baceprot, recently released a limited NFT for their single ‘[NOT] PUBLIC PROPERTY’ and used the proceeds from their NFT sales to help female victims of violence. The band's approach allowed them to use their music to give a voice to women, while also allowing their music to reach a global community beyond their home country.

In June last year, GMO Internet Group announced that they were launching their own NFT marketplace, Adam, for sellers and buyers. By adopting the NFT marketplace, GMO Internet Group aims to aid in value creation, while also enhancing their corporate value. Leveraging on the network of their venture partner, Samurai Partners – an established name in Japan’s manga illustration industry – GMO will be able to tap into creators in the industry to launch their creations on the Adam platform. The marketplace will also enable GMO Internet Group, already in the crypto asset business, to expand their expertise and blockchain technology, while redefining content distribution for a broader audience.

NFTs have significant potential for changing how commercial business is done, especially as the Metaverse continues to evolve. The commercial opportunities surrounding NFTs include being used as a loyalty program, as a source of authenticity for brands, or even as a strategy to grant exclusive access for selected collectors. While the digital shift may be pretty jarring for many commercial businesses, especially since it is all still relatively new and fluid, the future importance of NFTs for the industry appears to be significant. 

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